Published by Walther König, Köln. Edited with text by Susanne Pfeffer. Text by Mike Kelley, Antje Krause-Wahl, Reiko Tomii.
Over a period of three decades, from the mid-1950s to the late 1980s, the Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo (1935–90) created a consistent body of work that significantly foreshadowed what is now known as posthumanism and new materialism. His colored neon contaminations, limp penises, tattered flaps of skin and lone body parts wrapped in cocoons bring humanist self-assurance crashing to the ground. What appears as poison or chemical devastation is in fact an appeal to understand metamorphosis as a perpetual state of being. This sensibility is particularly evident in post-nuclear Japanese culture, where the destruction of the bombs permeates every facet of life and makes apparent the fragility of our organic bodies. This catalog brings together contributions by artists and theorists and documents Kudo’s oeuvre in plates and archival images, as well as exhibition views from his retrospective at the Fridericianum in 2016.
Published by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Edited by Lærke Rydal Jørgensen, Tine Colstrup. Text by Tetsumi Kudo, Joshua Mack.
Contemplating Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo’s (1935-90) work in the 21st century provokes a sense of the uncanny on multiple levels: grotesquely beautiful on their own, his abject sculptures seem to foretell today’s environmental concerns with their depictions of ecological decay. Born in Osaka, Kudo’s life was greatly impacted by the aftermath of the atomic bomb in 1945; this trauma compounded by the Vietnam War’s ever-present atmosphere of destruction led to a consistent focus on dystopia and decomposition in his work.
Kudo’s fluorescent birdcages and blacklight terrariums are furnished with an assortment of sculptures and found objects: melted plastic flowers, colorful phallic chrysalises and dismembered resin body parts come together to convey a distinctly modern anxiety in regard to our ailing world. Kudo’s work does not intend to provide comfort in the midst of crisis; rather, his pieces urge viewers to reflect on how we may or may not continue to survive in a world that we ourselves have ruined through pollution and consumerism.
As the artist’s work reaches a peak of topicality, this volume presents a focused selection of Kudo’s pieces from the 1960s and 1970s that demonstrate a postwar awareness of the atomic bomb’s effect on reproduction and the environment.
Published by Walker Art Center. Edited and with text by Doryun Chong. Text by Mike Kelley, Hiroko Kudo.
Tetsumi Kudo: Garden of Metamorphosis accompanies the first solo museum presentation of this highly original but under-studied artist's work in the United States. Organized by the Walker Art Center in close collaboration with Hiroko Kudo, the artist's widow, it features approximately 70 works covering the full trajectory of his amazingly productive career, which spanned from the late 1950s through the 80s. Born in Japan, Kudo first gained notoriety in the Tokyo art scene of the late 50s. He immigrated to Paris in 1962, working in a range of media--objects, sculpture, installation, drawing and painting--and presenting numerous Happenings and performances. Kudo's work and activities intersect with many important postwar artistic trends--including French Nouveau Réalisme, Fluxus, Pop art, 60s anti-art tendencies and 80s Postmodernism. Throughout his life and career, Kudo remained particularly Japanese while his art and vision were consistently and uniquely transcultural, internationalist and cosmopolitan. This beautifully designed exhibition catalogue includes an essay examining Kudo's philosophy, the evolution of his artistic vocabulary and his place in art history by curator Doryun Chong; a reflection by artist Mike Kelley; a selection of Kudo's writings, interviews with the artist and other historical criticism; and an illustrated chronology by Hiroko Kudo.